Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Case Study No. 0875: Ezra Stiles

The Librarian
Ezra's part time job was about telling you to be quiet and read yo' book!

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Tags: The Librarian
Added: 1 month ago
From: Ezra Stiles
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["The Librarian Update" appears on screen, as the camera focuses on an unseen person drawing a face (with the thought balloon "Historical Tidbit of the week!") in the first panel of a comic strip]
RAHUL KINI: This is the historical tidbit of the week, by Rahul Kini.
[the second panel shows a sketch of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum]
RAHUL KINI: The oldest lending community library in America is a small eleven-room building on Fifty Bellevue Avenue, Newport Rhode Island.
[the third panel shows a map of the United States, with an arrow pointing to Newport, Rhode Island]
RAHUL KINI: The Redwood Library, founded in 1747.
[the fourth panel shows a sketch of the New York Society Library (labelled "NYC Library")]
RAHUL KINI: Its one hundred and sixty thousand volume Athenaeum is older than the New York Society Library ...
[the fifth panel shows a caricature of Benjamin Franklin flying a kite]
RAHUL KINI: Benjamin Franklin's library company in Philadelphia.
[the sixth panel shows a caricature of a man wearing glasses while saying "Yeah, yeah ... I'm ola"]
RAHUL KINI: It was commissioned by Peter Harrison ...
[the seventh panel shows a sketch of a large building with marble columns and an American flag]
RAHUL KINI: Who showed the New England community the first form of classical design architecture, a style that Thomas Jefferson was trying to popularize ...
[the eighth panel shows a sketch of the floor plan for the library (with labels for the "Harrison Room" and "Terry Reading Room")]
RAHUL KINI: But miserably failed when people realized that there was no point. As a result, when the library was first built, the main room - and only room - was called the Harrison Room, and to this day houses the works of America's most beloved authors.
[the ninth panel shows a red book labelled "Edith Wharton", a green book labelled "Henry James", and a blue book labelled "JK Rowling"]
RAHUL KINI: Like Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Charles Bird King.
[the tenth panel shows a sketch of Ezra Stiles preaching to his congregation]
RAHUL KINI: It was in 1756, a year after Ezra Stiles moved to Newport Rhode Island to preach in the Second Congregational Church, that he decided to become the librarian of Redwood Library.
[the eleventh panel shows a sketch of Ezra (still wearing his priestly vestments) saying "Please don't make noise! This is a library!!!"]
RAHUL KINI: Here, he maintained correspondence with Yale Fellows and other important people in Connecticut.
[the twelfth panel shows a sketch of Ezra writing a letter with a quill pen (and the Yale logo written in blue above it), then caricatures of Mike Tyson and Paul Giamatti]
RAHUL KINI: His prolific letter writing and research built his reputation among the world's intellectual community, as well as it became good material for historical tidbits.
[the thirteenth panel shows a caricature of George Berkeley standing next to Redwood Library with a "4 Sale!" sign, while saying "Yo take care of my crib ... "]
RAHUL KINI: There is some debate as to whether Redwood Library was the former home of George Berkeley, a renowned philosopher and supporter of Yale.
[the fourteenth panel shows Ezra standing in front of an empty bookshelf covered in cobwebs, while saying "WTF!!!!" (with the caption "During American Rev ... ")]
RAHUL KINI: What is known is that during the American Revolution, over half the volumes vanished from the shelves during its use as a British officers club.
[the fifteenth panel shows a person holding a book labelled "Library misses books, please give them back!"]
RAHUL KINI: However, it wasn't until 1806 that the library actually started advertising that their books were missing.
[the sixteenth panel shows a pie chart, with the green area marked "Found" and the blue area marked "Ain't nobody got time for that!"]
RAHUL KINI: In 1947, an initiative was pushed to retrieve most of the books. Today they have about ninety percent of the original volumes.
[the seventeenth panel shows a drawing of the Ezra Stiles College's logo]
RAHUL KINI: Redwood Library was once the home for the brightest scholars and researchers on the East Coast, and as long as Stilesians know about it, it'll continue to be so. As long as librarians like Stiles offer the community access to the great works of our time, we will - as Redwood Library's motto states - have nothing in view but the good of mankind.
[the eighteenth panel shows a young man holding an iPad, while saying "Yeah Steve Jobs!"]
RAHUL KINI: [pause] Unless everyone starts using eBooks ...



Ezra Stiles
b. North Haven, CT, November 29, 1727
d. New Haven, CT, May 12, 1795

Scholar, educator, son of a congregational minister, president of Yale.

Called to Newport; believed living here would be an excellent opportunity due to thriving seaport, cultural center, and the Redwood Library. Ordained as pastor of Second Congregational Church on October 22, 1755, beginning 20-year residency here.

His Newport days were considered the happiest and most active of his life. Becomes the librarian of the Redwood Library in 1756. Influential in obtaining works for the library. Portrait of Stiles in possession of library - a copy of an original painted in 1794 by Reuben Moulthrop.

Left the people of Newport and historians two important documents - his map of Newport, c. 1758, and his diary, which was subsequently edited by F.B. Dexter and published in 1901. Diary reported in great detail on Newport's daily life and the map is an impressive effort on his part. The map details houses with the number of stories, wharves, etc. He paced out the distances of these items. Original map, in possession of Redwood Library, is considered one of the greatest treasures of the institution.

A leading intellectual of the colonial period, often referred to as "the most learned man in New England" (subjective). A very open-minded person to other forms of religion.

Graduated Yale (1746); licensed to preach and named tutor at Yale (1749); admitted to the Bar in Connecticut (1753). While at Yale, becomes engaged in electrical experiments after apparatus is sent by Benjamin Franklin.

Stiles played important part in the founding of Rhode Island College (now known as Brown University) in 1764.

Stiles took great interest in the welfare of Negro slaves. He himself owned one and set him free. Held evening classes on Clarke Street for Negroes, which included preaching and singing.

Fond of silkworms, had white mulberry trees in his garden for use in experiments and the manufacture of the silkworms. The parsonage main door faced south into garden, however has now been turned toward street. The parsonage of Stiles is located at #14 Clarke Street, also known as the Henderson Home for Aged Men.

Still standing across the street at #15 Clarke Street is his church, now converted to condominiums. Sometimes referred to as the "Dr. Stiles Meetinghouse," Stiles was afraid that during the British occupation of Newport the guns of the warships were aimed at the church.

During this occupation most of his congregation had left town. He was thought of so highly by his parishioners that they were unwilling to dismiss him as their pastor. Stiles was not formally dismissed by the congregation until the next minister took charge in May of 1786 - ten years after he left town.

A staunch supporter of the Revolution, advocate of rights and liberties, leaves the hostilities of Newport for Dighton, MA, in March of 1776. He does visit Newport, not to live but to preach while living in Dighton. Visits Newport after occupation ends.

After Newport days (moved March 1776), took charge of parishes in Taunton, MA, Providence, RI, and in May 1777, took charge of a church in Portsmouth, NH.

Elected president of Yale in September 1777, but did not accept post until March 1778, died in office. Buried at Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, CT.

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